Age of Ultron, Heaven and Previews that Oversell or Undersell

Recently, the trailer to the latest installment of the Avengers serial: Age of Ultron released. Anytime a preview to a highly anticipated movie releases there is always a wave of response from the populace. That response can be read on Twitter, overheard in cafes, and felt weighty in the air of light-hearted conversation. People become passionate about their expectation on entertainment. I mean, if we’re gonna dish out $10-15 for an evening at the theater, that preview better not oversell, right? So conversations wage over prediction, projections: Will this preview let me down or will it fulfill my need for catharsis?

Previews and Sunday Worship

I’m not gonna Jesus Juke a punchline at the end of this article. I’m going to show you my cards right here. The reality is movie previews are similar and dissimilar to Sunday Worship. Movie trailers preview movies and they often oversell; Sunday worship previews heaven and it cannot oversell.

The correlation of the two, movie previews and Sunday worship, really depends on where you go on Sunday. Some churches try desperately to emulate the elements of affective movie trailers: climactic music, punchy one-line tweetables, whimsical, humorous, passionate, suspenseful moments. Why do they do this? Well, the Sunday preview is said elsewhere to offer a glimpse of heaven and lead you to wonder and long for its mystery. At least that is a common cliche I’ve heard. Have you? No doubt, those churches want people to want heaven, and you can’t fault them for that; it’s a genuine motivation.

But wouldn’t you agree that you’ve entered many churches for a Sunday preview and left knowing it dramatically undersold, even misrepresented the astonishing wonder and magisterial splendor that is heaven? I have. I’ve left embarrassed that I was caught in those places, just like I felt after walking out 30 minutes into the first The Avengers movie.

Walking out of The Avengers, you think I’m nuts. Don’t you? Blockbuster cast, amazing effects, all the one-liners you could ever want. Why would I walk out of that? Well, I’m not talking about the more recent The Avengers (2012) with Robert Downy Jr. and Scarlett Johansson. I’m talking about The Avengers (1998) with Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman. I’m talking about the shameful one with Sean Connery in a bunny suit, holding the world ransom by mastering the weather. It doesn’t get more shameful than that. How did I find myself viewing that odious film in the Palace 9 theatre on Ft. Worth’s Sundance Square as a Junior in High School?

I got oversold on a hyped preview.

Heaven Can’t Be Oversold

As much as we conjecture what heaven will be like, we really don’t have much idea. Whether it’s Randy Alcorn’s Heaven or the C. S. Lewis portrayal in The Great Divorce, I think we’re going to stagger and shudder in wonder and exultation of the Heaven which is for real. Thankfully, I can’t get oversold on something that is such a mystery.

Friends, whatever happens on Sunday morning is really a meager morsel of heaven. It’s the dregs of coffee or the crumbs of a Fig Newton, which is a cookie folks, not a cake! It’s the navel lint to the perfection we’ll behold. It’s a minute foretaste of heaven indeed.

We need to be careful what we present on Sunday mornings because people will leave, not oversold, but scoffingly undersold, because pyrotechnics were leveraged rather than providence proclaimed.

I firmly believe the key to properly previewing heaven isn’t wowing people with contemporvant antics but proclaiming the God who is. When people witness others astonished by the gospel paradox, lapping up delight in Christ, and sitting under the preached Word, they will not scoff, be put-off, be undersold or oversold. They will taste the goodness of God breaking into the world of men; they will trade the secular universe for the created cosmos.

View-Worthy: 10.24.14


Irrational Atheism, Self-Promotion, Waiting on God, Pastor’s Swagger.


Crispin Sartwell. Irrational Atheism. (The Atlantic) HT David Murray

I’m an atheist because I think of the universe as a natural, material system. I think of it, on the basis of my own extremely limited experience, as an infinitely replete but morally indifferent thing. It isn’t bent on saving me, or damning me: It just is. I find comfort in that, as well as pain; wonder as well as loathing. That’s my experience, and my atheism is a reflection of that experience. But it’s not an argument; it’s an interpretation.

I have taken a leap of atheist faith.

Deal of the Day

Total Church by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis $0.99

Book Review

Eric Mason. Beat God to the Punch. Reviewed by Mathew Sims. (CBMW)


Joseph Tenney. Self-Promotion and Our Fear of Obscurity. (DG)

We all love to be praised and celebrated. We want a name for ourselves. We crave a platform of respect. We desire to be important to other people. We want our work to be appreciated. In some shape or form, this is true for all of us — perhaps especially for pastors and Christian leaders.

Christina Fox. Five Ways to Glorify God While You Wait. (True Woman)

Whatever our in-betweens are, how do we live while we wait? How do we wait for God to act, to answer prayer, to move in the desperation of our lives? How do we live by faith while we wait to hear if we need another test, for the long hoped for engagement ring, for the entrance exam scores, or for our house to sell? This is where the rubber meets the road in our daily lives.

Peter Chin. When Pastors Lose Swagger. (CT)

Yes, believe it or not, pastors have swagger, and/or mojo. Though we usually spiritualize it and call it “anointing”, and/or “gifting”. In essence, it is that confidence that a pastor has in his or her skills and abilities, which allows them to minister more effectively, and inspire others to greater faith. Never was my swagger more evident and more utilized than when I planted my own church almost exactly five years ago.


Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

“Worship is the adoring contemplation of God as he has revealed himself in Christ and in his Word.” J. Oswald Sanders

Quotes from Brothers, We Are Not Professionals by John Piper

broswearenotprosOne of the pivotal reads in my pastoral calling has been Brothers, We Are Not Professionals by John Piper. This book has been an ongoing comfort and sharpening to me when I’ve become pastorally dull-minded, which all pastors experience.

In 2013 B&H Publishers released an updated and expanded edition of this present-day classic. This new edition includes six additional chapters: 4, 6, 13, 18, 22, and 27. These are welcomed additions to this book.

If you’ve never read Brothers, We Are Not Professionals, I heartily commend it to you. John Piper’s passion for the pastorate and the building of heathy churches brims throughout this book.

1. “We Pastors are being killed by the professionalizing of the pastoral ministry” (1).

2. “Many people are willing to be God-centered as long as they feel that God is man-centered” (6).

3. “An appeal to God’s righteousness is at root an appeal to His unswerving allegiance to the value of His own holy name” (13).

4. “The aim has been to help people relocate that bottom of their joy — the decisive foundation of their joy — from self to God” (17).

5. “The ultimate end of the gospel is coming home to God” (48).

6. “God is not looking for people to work for Him but people who let Him work mightily in and through them” (56).

7. “God was the workman in our justification and he will be the workman in our sanctification” (58).

8. “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him…My life is devoted to helping people make God their God, by wakening in them the greatest pleasures in Him” (61).

9. “A cry for help form the heart of a childlike pastor is a sweet praise in the ears of God” (70).

10. “The importance of prayer rises in proportion to the importance of the things we should give up in order to pray” (77).

11. “Brothers, beware of sacred substitutes. Devote yourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word” (78).

12. “The domestication of God is a curse on preaching in our day” (87).

13. “The difference between an entertainment-oriented preacher and a Bible-oriented preacher is whether there is a manifest connection between the preacher’s words and the Bible as what authorizes what he says” (90).

14. “One of the greatest tragedies in the church today is the depreciation of the pastoral office” (101).

15. “If you feel dependent on God to help you see the meaning of a text, then you will cry to Him for help” (115).

16. “Pursue the tone of the text. But let it be informed, not muted, by the tonal balance of Jesus and the apostles and by the gospel of grace” (121).

17. “The eternal life of the elect hangs on the effectiveness of pastoral labors” (127).

18. “When the heart no longer feels the truth of hell, the gospel passes from good news to simply news” (134).

19. “The first spiritual step on the Calvary road of radical obedience to Jesus is repentance” (138).

20. “So preaching that aims to produce true evangelical remorse and contrition must devote itself to making God and His holiness look alluring attractive and satisfying, so that, by the grace of regeneration and illumination, people will come to love it so much that they feel intense remorse over falling short of it” (143).

View-Worthy: 10.23.14


Archbishop Ditches Mansion, Seeing God in Suffering, God in the Grocery Aisle, Justin Buzzard and Sabbath Rest.


Daniel Burke. New Chicago ArchBishop Ditches $14 Million Mansion. (CNN)

Chicago’s new archbishop does not plan to live in the $14 million mansion that housed many of his predecessors but was seen by some Catholics as out of touch with Pope Francis’ emphasis on simplicity.

Instead, Archbishop Blase Cupich, a moderate in the mold of Francis, will live in the rectory of Holy Name Cathedral, the archdiocese of Chicago announced Wednesday.

Deal of the Day

Church Elders by Jeramie Rinne $0.99

Book Review

Peter Enns. The Bible Tells Me So. Reviewed by Michael Kruger. (TGC)


Eric McKiddie. 3 Ways to See God in Your Suffering. (

Horatio Spafford didn’t know it, but he was about to face incredible suffering. He planned a family vacation to Europe for the fall of 1873, but a business emergency kept him from traveling with his family. Intending to join his family after he attended to the situation, he sent his wife, Anna, and their four daughters ahead of him. During his family’s voyage their ship collided with another vessel. Although Anna survived, their four daughters drowned.

Lindsey Carlson. God Is in the Grocery Aisle. (DG)

Should we write-off healthy eating? Of course not! But neither do we need to anxiously obsess over every morsel on our plates, lest our fixation with our food consume us. Jesus tells us we shouldn’t worry about what we eat or drink (Matthew 6:25). “Is not life more than food?” Our heavenly Father is sovereign over our health, our bodies, and the number of our days, so we’re free to seek first hiskingdom and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33), not our meal plan. When worries about food cause me to shrink back in fear and forget God’s kingdom, I need the gospel to remind me time and again: Jesus is the one who makes me clean, not my food.

Gavin Ortlund. Our Neglected Practice: An Interview with Justin Buzzard on Sabbath Rest. (TGC)

Do you know what its like to experience a “deep reservoir of refreshment that continually rejuvenates you”? Or (like me) do you too often feel hurried and distracted? Could it be that our frequent neglect of Sabbath rest reflects a gap in our trust in the gospel?

To learn more about Sabbath rest, and its roots in the gospel, I corresponded with Justin Buzzard, lead pastor at Garden City Church in Silicon Valley, California, and author of books like The Big StoryDate Your Wife, and Why Cities Matter.


2 Samuel 22:50 “For this I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations, and sing praises to your name.”

“Worship is the adoration of a redeemed people, occupied with God himself.” A. W. Pink

Five New Testament Introductions

Finding the best books to read on a subject of theology can be a challenge. This series provides suggested resources for topics of Theology. Each title is linked to Amazon, if available. If you have another title to suggest for this area of study, please comment. I’m always happy to add another work to my library.

Here are 5 books that will launch you into studies on an introduction to the New Testament.

1. An Introduction to the New Testament by D A Carson and Doug Moo

2. An Introduction to the New Testament by Raymond Brown

3. An Introduction to the New Testament by David deSilva

4. The New Testament A Historical and Theological Introduction by Donald Hagner

5. The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament by Kostenberger, Kellum, and Quarles

View-Worthy: 10.22.14


School Prayer, Begrudgingly Affirming God’s Word, Real Friendship, Pastoral Ministry Slump.


Caryn Rivadeneira. School Prayer Doesn’t Need a Comeback. (CT)

This conception of God, though, is not one that I can get behind. I object to any mission to bring prayer “back” to school because I can’t support the faulty theology—downright heresyof implying God is only around to hear our prayers when the building sanctions his presence.

Prayer never left schools. And God never did either. To suggest otherwise should make us shudder. And yet, that’s what campaigns full of good God-fearing folks seem to be saying

Deal of the Day

What Is a Healthy Church Member? by Thabiti Anyabwile $0.99

Book Review

Mike Cosper. The Stories We Tell. Reviewed by Kevin Halloran.


Aaron Armstrong. Christian, Don’t Begrudgingly Affirm God’s Word.

Public personalities like these aren’t alone in doing the dance. At some point or another we all do it. And as I’ve watched it happen (and occasionally been caught in it myself) time and again, one of the inevitable pieces of fallout is we wind up just having to come out and say what we were trying to not say.

This almost begrudging acceptance of the truth—we really do have to say what the Bible says.

Jen Thorn. 6 Costs of Real Friendship. (

While doing a study on accountability I came across a few articles about the seriousness of friendship, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since.

We tend to use the word “friend” quite carelessly. Any person we have a few conversations with, work with, or “like” on Facebook we call “friend.” This is not necessarily bad, but through it, I believe, we are losing the real meaning of Biblical friendship.

Thom Rainer. Eight Causes of Pastoral Ministry Slump.

Sure, the pastoral ministry slump is subjective if not vague. But it’s real. And every pastor experiences it. So I asked several pastors what they viewed to be the causes of slumps they experienced. Here are their top responses in the form of direct quotes.


1 John 5:2 “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.”

“The beginning and perfection of lawful worship is readiness to obey.” John Calvin

John Calvin on the Snares of Worldly Success

CalvinICRGodly men must not only seek God’s blessing alone but must credit him for all blessings. We’re all tempted to strive and make our own fortunes. In fact, this has been the popular narrative of our culture since the Industrial Revolution. Unfortunately, self-made men cannot be God’s men, because they take credit where no credit is ever due. Even the self-made man has what he has from God’s mercy and grace alone. This is a healthy reminder to each of us, regardless of what and how success finds us or we find it. Any success comes only by the blessed hand of the Lord’s. And all chastisement is made for our discipline, to make us godly men, not self-made men.

This excerpt is taken from Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion. This quotation is from the end of section 8 and the beginning of section 9 in Book 3, Chapter 7.

In order not to be caught in such snares, godly men must hold to this path. First of all, let them neither desire nor hope for, nor contemplate, any other way of prospering than by the Lord’s blessing. Upon this, then, let them safely and confidently throw themselves and rest. For however beautifully the flesh may seem to suffice unto itself, while it either strives by its own effort for honors and riches or relies upon its diligence, or is aided by the favor of men, yet it is certain that all these things are nothing; nor will we benefit at all, either by skill or by labor, except in so far as the Lord prospers them both. On the contrary, however, his blessing alone finds a way, even through all hindrances, to bring all things to a happy and favorable outcome for us; again, though entirely without it, to enable us to obtain some glory and opulence for ourselves (as we daily see impious men amassing great honors and riches), yet, inasmuch as those upon whom the curse of God rests taste not even the least particle of happiness, without this blessing we shall obtain nothing but what turns to our misfortune. For we ought by no means to desire what makes men more miserable.

Therefore, suppose we believe that every means toward a prosperous and desirable outcome rests upon the blessing of God alone; and that, when this is absent, all sorts of misery and calamity dog us. It remains for us not greedily to strive after riches and honors — whether relying upon our own dexterity of wit or our own diligence, or depending upon the favor of men, or having confidence in vainly imagined torture — but for us always to look to the Lord so that by his guidance we may be led to whatever lot he has provided for us.

View-Worthy: 10.21.14


Driscoll’s Board, Pastor’s Wife Effect, Redemption and Rap, Reasons to Attend Worship.


Morgan Lee. Was Driscoll’s Board a Problem? (CT)

A deeper question raised by the Mars Hill saga asks if nondenominational churches can better govern their congregation and disciple their pastors with elders drawn from within the church body, or if they should seek outside expertise.

Deal of the Day

Nine Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever $1.99

Book Review

Oliver Crisp. Deviant Calvinism. Reviewed by Paul Helm. (Ref21)


Joanna Breault. The Pastor’s Wife Effect. (CT)

In a recent interview in Rolling Stone, Taylor Swift recounts a conversation with her brother about a man he’d seen walking around with a cat on his head. She was torn between wanting to respect the man’s privacy and wishing she had a photo. After all, she said, “That guy is asking for it – he’s got a cat on his head!”

So here’s a sentence I never thought I’d write: Being a pastor’s wife is a little like having a cat on your head. Are we really asking for it? We have our private, everyday lives just like everyone else, yet we happen to be married to men whose jobs—whose ministries—are public.

Dan DeWitt. My Journey in Rhythm, Rhyme, and Redemption. (TGC)

I spent the summer of 1992, or at least a good portion of it, on a school bus. The drive from my small town in central Illinois to a small town in central Ohio seemed to take forever. It was a blistering summer day, and there was no air conditioning. We had been on the road since early in the morning, and the sun had finally risen to the perfect angle where it was directly cooking me through the window. I felt like a turkey on Thanksgiving Day. I wasn’t sure what would melt first, my skin or the vinyl seat it was stuck to.

I put my headphones on and stuck a cassette tape into my Walkman (the old school equivalent of an iPod—kind of).

I wanted to escape: The bus. The youth group. The world.

Matthew Westerholm. Three Reasons to Attend Corporate Worship. (DG)

“Why do we have to go to church again?”

Children ask this question on a semi-regular basis. I know my three boys have given me many opportunities to answer it. As a worship pastor, I am embarrassed to admit that I have found myself facing another service and asking the same question: Why again? Did we fail last week, or do it wrong? Was last week’s service not enough?


2 Corinthians 11:3 “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”

“Devotion is not an activity; it is an attitude toward God.” Jerry Bridges

Basil of Caesarea: His Life and Impact by Marvin Jones

Basil of CaesareaBibliography

Marvin Jones. Basil of Caesarea: His Life and Impact. Fearn: Christian Focus, 2014. 166 pp. $11.99.




“The Church Fathers are a forgotten heirloom from the past.”

Your response to that statement reveals what you will think about Basil of Caesarea: His Life and Work. Too few have read the Church Fathers or about them. Often, pastors do not know where to start.

This is why I highly anticipate the Early Church Fathers series edited by Michael A. G. Haykin. This series recovers yesterday’s treasures for today’s readers. So far two books have released: St. Patrick of Ireland by Haykin and this work by Jones. Forthcoming titles include: Athanasius by Carl Trueman, Cyril of Alexander by Steve McKinion, Augustine by Brad Green, Irenaeus of Lyons by Ligon Duncan, and Tertullian by David Robinson. What a line up!

Jones’s book, Basil of Caesarea, alongside Haykin’s, prove to be pacesetters for this series. Marvin Jones is an Assistant Professor of Church History and Theology at Louisiana College and chairs the Christian Studies department.

Basil of Caesarea first sets the contextual political and theological setting along with a biographical overview of Basil’s life in chapter one. Chapter two delves into his conversion and a broadly sweeping understanding of Basil’s theology. In chapters three through seven Jones scrutinizes critical contexts that incite Basil’s pivotal works. Chapter three discusses the monastic movement, Basil’s contribution of the Moral Rules, and his favor towards a communal (coenobitic) structure for monastic living. Chapter four sets up chapter five. Jones sets the scene that leads Basil to write his magnum opus, On the Holy Spirit, which chapter five considers in detail. Chapter six explores Basil’s homiletical leanings, centering on his unexpected literal interpretation of Genesis 1 in the Hexaemeron, a move contrary to the allegorical method popularized by Origen and prevalent for the time. Chapter seven summarily concludes Basil of Caesarea by bringing together and refreshing many uncannily applicable points for which pastors and leaders profit from Basil’s life.

Benefit for Pastoral Ministry

Jones’s work, Basil of Caesarea, is no dessicated biography; his expressive energy imbues this book. From the opening anecdote of Basil’s defiance against Modestus (19-21) to his unlikely conversion tale kindled by his beloved sister, Macrina’s, witness (41-42), the narrative of Basil’s life will entrance readers.

Yet, don’t presume that Basil of Caesarea is mere arresting biography. This book amplifies your understanding of pastoral ministry and theology.

For instance, Jones draws us into the political context with which Basil found himself embroiled. This is instructive for pastors. When tensions mount between young Basil and his overseer Eusebius, Basil diffidently withdraws into monastic life. Jones comments:

Regardless of the specific reason, Basil left Caesarea in order to prevent further division that would overflow into the church. He honored the pastor, Eusebius, by not being a continual source of contention, thereby showing great respect for the Lord’s church and the Lord’s pastor at Caesarea. (67)

What a first-rate example for young leaders!

Meanwhile, Basil of Caesarea reacquaints you with subjects such as the Arian Heresy, the divinity of the Holy Spirit, and the ripening of Trinitarian doctrine. These discussions leave you grateful that Basil contended for precise theological language.

Callouts define terms like ousia, hypostases, tropikoi, andthe filioque clause, which clarify orthodox articulation. Distantly past heresies, like Sabbelianism, keep you weary of permitting similar, present day, expressions from hooking their claws into the church.

Jones does not leave us with a flawless, rose-tinted, presentation of Basil. He presents a realistic and relatable portrait. We recognize Basil’s brash attempt to enlist Athanasius’s political support for what it is: sensational and misrepresentative. Basil wishing to see Meletius installed as Bishop of Antioch instead of Marcellus, misconstrued Marcellus’s theological views beyond orthodoxy. Basil’s six letters to Athanasius – convincing him of these views – warrant no reply.

Despite the brouhaha with Athanasius, Basil’s writing possesses a classy mettle. There is a thing or two to learn from him about blogging, email, and public address. Read this excerpt from Basil’s, Against Eunomius, a work going toe to toe against Arianism: “So, on account of Your Charity, who enjoins us to do this, and for the sake of our own well being, it is necessary for us to accept the responsibility of allying ourselves with the truth and refuting this falsehood” (50). Basil imbibes social grace, excels in rhetoric, and champions sound doctrine with stoic conviction, even when the cause against Ariansim looks bleak.

There is a lot more to be said about this excellent primer on Basil. May this review put you on a trajectory, not just to read Basil of Caesarea, but to study his other writings as well.


Essential            Recommended            Helpful            Pass It By


Basil of Caesarea is a strategic biographical and theological reconnoiter of a remarkable figure and thinker in the early church.

View-Worthy: 10.20.14


Hillsong’s Brian Houston, Church in Exile, Help Someone Change, This Coke, Sexuality and Silence.


Sarah Pulliam Bailey and Jonathan Merritt. Brian Houston Defends Handling of Abuse Case, Sidesteps Questions on Gay Marriage. (RNS)

The founder of Hillsong, one of the most influential religious brands across the globe, on Thursday (Oct. 16) denied allegations that he had tried to cover up his father’s sexual abuse, saying the victim asked him not to go to the police.

Deal of the Day

Accidental Pharisees by Larry Osborne $3.79

Book Review

Todd Wilson. Real Christian. Reviewed by Matt Perman.


Andrew Walker. A Church in Exile. (First Things)

Religion, and maybe Ebola, owned the news this week. From the confusion and public relations nightmare at the Vatican over the Synod’s Relatio, to the Caesarism of Annise Parker and the City of Houston subpoenaing sermons from pastors, it has been a busy week for the religion beat.

Then yesterday, coverage about a Hillsong press conference came out, indicating that the global evangelical enterprise is triangulating on homosexuality, particularly about whether it should publicly hold what the Bible teaches in light of culture’s rapid change on the subject.

Stephen Altrogge. How To REALLY Help Someone Change.

You’ve got this person in your life, and they really need to change. For years your husband has struggled with anger. For years your wife has struggled with self-control. For years your son has struggled with laziness. For years your daughter has struggled with body image issues. At this point, you don’t know h0w to help them move forward. You don’t know how to help them overcome the sin that has beset them for so long. You’re fed up, worn out, and pretty much hopeless. You’ve resigned yourself to things always being the way they are.

What the heck are you supposed to do? Fortunately, the Bible gives us straight forward wisdom on how to really, actually help a person change. And odds are, the Bible’s wisdom probably runs contrary to your own ideas of how to help a person change. It certainly runs contrary to mine!

So how can you help a person change?

Tyler Glodjo. This Cokes [Not] For You: Life on the Margins. (CaPC)

 A few weeks ago my wife sent me a picture of a Coke bottle with my name on it. “Even when away, you’re with me,” I could hear her say. There is a unique simplicity in encountering a product with your name on it. It’s a simple, short-lived experience of validation. Did Coca-Cola have me in mind when printing “Tyler” on their labels? Surely not. But when my wife came across it in the grocery store, lonely from a summer without her husband while I was away at school, those five letters represented me. The name “Tyler” on the Coke bottle flooded her memory with a love she had been missing. Five simple letters represented not a word, but a name; and not a name shared by many, but the name of one. My name. What a beautifully simple phenomenon—outside the fact that such feelings originated from a massive marketing ploy.

Andrew Wilson. Sexuality and Silence. (9M)

I’ve heard rumours of a silent trend beginning to take hold in some city churches in the UK and the US. I don’t just mean a trend that takes hold silently; presumably most trends do that. I mean a trend toward silence: a decision not to speak out on issues that are considered too sticky, controversial, divisive, culturally loaded, entangled, ethically complex, personally upsetting, emotive, likely to be reported on by the Guardian or the New York Times, uncharted, inflammatory, difficult, or containing traces of gluten. Since I do not attend a city church, but am a proud member of the backward bungalow bumpkin brigade, this is coming to me secondhand, and it may turn out to be a storm in the proverbial teacup, or even (for all I know) entirely fictional.
But let’s imagine that there were such things as well-written booklets which had been discontinued simply because they were about sexuality, and leaders who were avoiding making any public comments at all on controversial ethical issues, or churches whose lectionaries or sermon series were systematically avoiding passages which addressed pressing contemporary questions, presumably in the name of being winsome or wise or likeable or culturally sensitive, because of the number of Influencers and Powerful People in the area. Without knowing any of the behind-the-scenes discussions that had taken place—all well-intentioned, I’m sure—what would I say then?


“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him, and we are most satisfied in him in worship.” John Piper

Romans 12:1 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”